Special Session Begins Today

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

This year’s legislative session is over. But the work is not complete. And with a special session beginning today, no one is going home.

For the first time in the state’s history, the House and Senate sessions, did not end with a gavel. The governor did it with a pen.

“Article Two Section ten of Alaska’s Constitution says if the two houses cannot agree on the time of adjournment, and either house certifies the disagreement to the governor. He may adjourn the legislature. I did so at 10:48 pm this evening,” Parnell said.

The House and Senate had reached an impasse over both the capital projects budget – and the operating budget. Both bodies asked the governor to intervene. The Senate in a brief letter, the House in a Resolution supported by 33 members. The House faulted the Senate for its intention to continue the session beyond the statutory 90-day session limit. House Majority Leader Alan Austerman explained to members that the House planned to honor the session.

“We have communicated to the other body our desires to adjourn on the ninetieth day. They plan to continue on as if the ninety day session was not the will of the people. They have signaled to us that the 120-day session is fine with them,” Austerman said.

Anchorage Democrat Mike Doogan was one of seven opponents to the resolution. He did not want the governor to intervene.

“Given what we have in front of us, the governor has no business in this,” Doogan said. “And I think we’re doing substantial damage to our body and the other body and the system that we have by saying essentially we can’t do this ourselves, we gotta get the governor to come and save us.”

The governor also called a special session beginning Monday – limiting members to working on only 10 issues – those budget bills are at the top of the list. He also will let them work on his scholarship program, coastal management, the Susitna hydroelectric dam, vocational education funding and extending various boards and commissions. Oil taxes are not in the mix.

The Special Session begins at one this afternoon and can run as long as 30 days.

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